Bright. Beautiful. Kid-centered.
Those are words parents used to describe the new Village Church Child & Family Development Center. Doors opened Monday at the new center at 99th Street and Mission Road in Overland Park.
“The old building was filled with lots of love, but it had seen better days,” said Erin Svarvari of Prairie Village, whose 4-year-old daughter, Taylor, attends the center. “We’re looking forward to all of the updated amenities the new building has to offer.”
“It’s so bright and cheerful,” said Courtney Dougherty of Leawood, whose daughter Tate attends the center. “It has really nice energy. The children and teachers are very excited.”
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Emily Killough of Leawood said her son Max, 3, has been attending the center since he was 4 months old. Now his 7-month-old sister Jane is attending the center. “We love the people the most, but we’re excited about the new indoor and outdoor spaces,” she said.
A ministry of the Village Presbyterian Church, the $8 million, 26,000-square-foot child care center replaces the previous child care center, a former Shawnee Mission elementary school that soon will be demolished and replaced with a parking lot.
The center first opened its doors in April 1995. Accommodating children age 6 weeks through 5 years, it has been consistently full and currently has a waiting list.
The new building increases the center’s capacity from 92 students to 132 students. It is part of The Robert and Shirley Meneilly Center for Mission, which also includes the Tillotson building, home to the Village Food Pantry.
Designed by Gastinger Walker & Architects, the building offers amenities scaled specifically for small children, including a custom door providing a child-sized entrance to the classroom area and windows at children’s level.
“It was designed for children to effectively manage their environment,” said Rosemary Marshall, director. “For example, the building slopes to provide ground level access from classrooms and major use areas.”
The project was funded through a two-year, $23 million capital campaign at Village Presbyterian Church. Other components of the campaign include $12 million in renovations to the church at 6641 Mission Road, including the addition of a welcome center. It was largely completed in March.
Renovation of the church sanctuary was completed in December 2015.
The new welcome center is located on the north end of the church. The 14,000-square-foot addition provides handicap access to the building and additional meeting space with room for gatherings of 150 to 200 people. The sanctuary renovation focused on improving the sanctuary’s acoustics and adding a new sound system and pipe organ, which currentlyis under construction in Tennessee. It is scheduled to arrive next month.
Marshall said the child care center is designed to feature light, open spaces and colorful classroom décor. An outdoor classroom/play area will be installed once the previous building is demolished. It will offer a nature-centered play and education concept that will enable children to explore nature and learn while playing.
An environmentally friendly LEED-certified building, the new structure features LED lighting, solar panels, green building materials and a system to harvest rainwater. Multiple equipment zones provide utility savings for areas not in use and light monitors determine the amount of artificial light needed. Classrooms have systems providing daylight usage and programmable dimming options. Even the parking lot will feature LED lighting.
An important building feature are two rooms specifically designed as safe rooms, Marshall said.
Reinforced with a cement roof and walls, they will be used in the event of inclement weather or other emergencies. “They were expensive to build and we appreciate the Village Church making the safety of the children a priority,” Marshall said.
Also included is a kitchen and bistro space, where children can consume fruits and vegetables grown in a garden on site. “The children eat family style and we have an initiative to serve healthy foods,” Marshall said.
The shared potion of the building features a 250-person multi-use space for educational activities and a meeting room. Rooms can be scheduled for community use beginning in January 2017 by calling the main church at 913-262-4200.
The child care center and food pantry are part of Village Presbyterian Church’s service to the community, Marshall said. She said a community open house will be held at the center next spring.